The Medical Marijuana Task Force

Posted by: Eric Simpson, Rowan County on March 19, 2018

Common wisdom states that the only people who have the time to care about politics are students and the retired. But when my roommate was invited to visit Secretary of State Alison Grimes’ medical marijuana task force to watch her announce the introduction of House Bill 166 for medical marijuana, I leapt at the chance to go with her. She arranged a ride with a teacher of hers, and upon his arrival with his partner, we were off to Frankfort.

It took little time for me to get comfortable in the vehicle, and despite the rain making every attempt to be an emblem of the day, we all spoke together on the possibilities medical marijuana could open for the state we live in. While I spend a lot of time either informing people on politics or being informed, very rarely do I get these moments to just build ideas off like minds. It felt encouraging, and confirmed to me that these silly goals like medical marijuana aren’t really that silly, but that people actually put concern in these topics.

When we hit the left turn onto the road leading to the courthouse, I was left in awe of the architecture of the courthouse. The bridge we passed was surrounded by trees on either side, leaving the capitol building in the clear grand center. Its architecture left an impression of permanence on me.

We set foot in the building, made light jokes with the security guards and, after asking directions, we headed to the task force. Walking into the room, I became nervous at the sight of so many people, as I usually do. The people I came with quickly engaged the room. Free copies of the bill were being passed out in the back of the room. The teacher and his partner quickly began going over a copy, while my neighbor started to talk with the one of Alison Grimes’ secretaries. I picked a chair near the front, graciously took a bottle of water offered to me by a guy in a suit, and waited for the meeting to begin.

An older gentleman sat next to me. He had longer hair, a big ring, and a wooden cane. With a smile he began asking me general first-encounter questions. “What county you from?” “What brings you here?” He told me he was a supporter of medical marijuana and that he had just finished organizing his town to build a statue of a local hero. He spoke with pride about that statue, and you could tell the vigor he brought to the tasks that caught his eye.  

Mrs. Grimes then took the stage, with many people filing in behind and around her. She began introducing each person who stood with her. Erik Crawford, who was involved in a car wreck when he was young, began to speak at length about the amount of medicine he was prescribed; it was enough to fill a half-gallon bag. Mr. Crawford, from his wheelchair, began to denounce the effects of his medications, with a special focus on the opiates he’d been given for chronic pain. He demanded an answer to this question: Why prescribe something that leads to 3 overdoses per hour when we have an alternative which does not?

Next to speak was United States Army Veteran Eric Pollock. Like the soldier he is, not a punch was pulled when he opened his mouth. His first statement was that 22 veterans a day kill themselves. He then described his personal experience with a recent friend of his who had committed suicide. “They give you painkillers to lay you down, and then they take them away.” He spoke of the horror of psychological medicines’ extra effects, like sleep paralysis. I was left truly moved.

Many other speakers with other takes on this issue all took gracious turns explaining how beneficial medical marijuana is to communities–from the epileptic, to the depressed. I was left mildly confused at the argument that wasn’t being brought up. So when, immediately after the speakers were finished and Mrs. Grimes began to making rounds to her visitors, I took it as a chance to bring the argument to her.

When I addressed her she smiled and took my hand, listening intently in a bustling room. “Mrs. Grimes,” I explained, “tobacco is a dying crop, but marijuana is the crop to make up for that. Tobacco is soon enough going to be phased out, but marijuana can offer a career path for every hillbilly of this state who wants to work in the soil, me included. My family lost collectively 80 acres over the past decade, mostly because there was no crop to keep it up. But marijuana could’ve been the crop.”

She listened. And in that moment, that’s all I wanted as a citizen–to feel listened to. We were allowed to take our copies of the bill, and we returned home. Since then, our KFTC chapter has organized a vote in fiscal court over a resolution allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed in our town, should the bill pass. And while the ordinance did not pass, we’ve continued to organize ourselves around this topic. Because now that the question of medical marijuana has been asked, the cat is finally out of the bag.  

0 comments view comments

Kentuckians tell McConnell time is up, pass RECLAIM now

Posted by: KFTC staff on March 14, 2018

Senator Mitch McConnell is in a position to direct more than $100 million to economic and community development projects in communities hardest hit by the decline in coal mining.

Kentuckians held an action outside his Lexington office today asking him to waste no more time in doing that.

“The time is now to pass the RECLAIM Act,” said Lyndsay Tarus, the Economic Transition Coordinator for the Alliance for Appalachia. “This is a jobs bill. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has estimated that 4,600 jobs could be generated through the RECLAIM Act across the country.

Members host Georgetown Town Hall

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on March 1, 2018

On February 24 members in Scott County hosted a town hall for residents to ask the questions of their state legislators they were concerned about.

VICTORY! Newport passes syringe access exchange

Members of DSA, NKJPC, and KFTC Celebrate After Newport Vote!
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on February 26, 2018

Tonight, on February 26, the Newport City Commission voted unanimously to approve a Syringe Access Exchange! This was the result of concentrated grassroots work lead by Newport residents over the past 5 months.

This past October several Newport residents began attending City Commission meetings to talk about the need for syringe access exchange, often referred to as a needle exchange, in their community. Partnering with Democratic Socialists of America of Metro Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, they began a campaign to build support for the exchange in their community.

Community survey highlights need for Fairness in Bowling Green

Posted by: Claudia Hanes on February 23, 2018

In the recent community survey sponsored by the Bowling Green Daily News, one citizen asked why Bowling Green needs a Fairness Ordinance.

EKY chapter meetings start the year out on strong, positive notes

Posted by: Angel Hill on February 15, 2018

In January and February, two eastern Kentucky chapters have started the year off with a bang.

Kentuckians speak up against anti-solar House Bill 227

Posted by: 11 Kentuckians on February 5, 2018

H.B. 227, proposed by GOP lawmakers early in January 2018, would smash Kentucky's independent solar businesses and shatter our opportunity to create a thriving clean energy economy. Here are reflections from Kentuckians on why this bill would lead our state away, not towards, the bright future and just transition that we deserve.

KFTC annual meeting moving to Berea College, August 3-5

Posted by: KFTC staff on February 3, 2018

Following five years of successful annual membership meetings at General Butler State Park, the KFTC Steering Committee voted to relocate the KFTC Annual Meeting to Berea College on August 3-5, 2018.

The vote followed a year-long conversation in which committee members met with KFTC staff and Berea College representatives to explore a possible relocation.    

The annual meeting is an important and necessary part of KFTC’s efforts to build grassroots power in Kentucky. It provides unique opportunities for members and folks who are interested in KFTC from every corner of the state and different backgrounds to come together for a weekend of gaining leadership skills, building community and having fun.

We all need to act to protect our U.S. democracy

Posted by: Lois Gillespie on February 2, 2018

Years ago, a popular song had the refrain, “What a difference a day makes.”  For me, I’d alter those lyrics to “What a difference a comment makes.” For it was this comment, “I’m afraid for our democracy” uttered during a political conversation a year ago that led me to the Kentuckians For The Commonwealth Constitutional Convention lobby day on January 23.

In the past year I’ve learned more about what that comment means and now I’m afraid for our democracy, too.

Madison chapter to again host Berea State of the City speech

Posted by: KFTC staff on January 30, 2018

In 2017, the Madison County chapter hosted a groundbreaking State of the City Address in Berea that changed the culture of this annual event.

Previously, the event had been held during business hours and was hosted by the Berea Chamber of Commerce, which used it as an annual fundraiser.

After conversations with Mayor Steve Connelly, the chapter was given the opportunity to re-envision the event and make it more welcoming and inclusive of many folks.

Victory: Scott County landfill denied zoning expansion

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on January 26, 2018

Hundreds of Scott County residents came out to oppose the application by the Central Kentucky Landfill to have 170+ acres near it being rezoned from agricultural use to industrial in order to allow


Subscribe to KFTC Blog